Mailport: April 2010

Letters to Practical Sailor's April 2010 issue include: MOB drills, tethers, nav lights, cleats, no-buff shines and tankless water heaters.

Portable Marine Toilets for Small Boats

A few steps above the old cedar bucket, portable marine toilets are essentially glorified waste containers, but a good one offers more comfort than a bucket, wont leak, and can be emptied and cleaned with limited hassle. We tested three porta potties made by Thetford-the Porta Potti 260, the Porta Potti 550P, and the Porta Potti Curve-and two West Marine-brand port potties made by Dometic/SeaLand, the Runabout 962 and the Cruiser 976. Testers rated performance, features, and construction quality.

LED Interior Lights Part 2

After several fits and starts, the LED lighting revolution has hit its full stride. Sure, el cheapo LEDs with their flickering beams and buzzing radio frequency interference (RFI) still flood the market-the number of LED bulb factories in China is staggering-however, thanks to this report, the second in a series that began in the June 2014 issue, you can now invest with confidence in that long-postponed interior lighting overhaul.

Next Best Thing

While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.

Shore-Power Boat Fire Protection

With the increased demand to have all the electrically powered comforts of home onboard, it should come as no surprise to boaters that the majority of AC-related electrical fires involve overheated shore-power plugs and receptacles. Prime Technology, aims to change all that with the introduction of its Shore Power Inlet Protector (ShIP for short), a monitoring and alarm device that automatically disconnects AC shore power when excessive heat is detected at the power inlet connector. We reviewed the ShIP 110 designed for use with a 110-volt, 30-amp system. The company also offers a similar unit (the ShIP 220) for use with 220-volt, 50-amp service. Charred plugs and receptacles are the result of resistance build-up (due to loose or corroded connections), which generates heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as water heaters and air-conditioning units. In addition to monitoring the temperature of your vessels shore-power inlet plug and its wiring, the ShIP system automatically disconnects AC shore power when an unsafe temperature is detected, providing visual and audible alarms. (The audible alarm shuts down after five minutes to avoid prolonged disturbance to surrounding boats.)

Some Propane Dos and Don’ts

Theres nothing more satisfying than capping a pleasant day on the water with a good meal, be it burgers and dogs on the grill or some fancy, culinary extravaganza whipped up by the galley wizard. Most marine stoves and grills use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Its efficient, relatively cheap, and widely available. Its also highly explosive-particularly with regards to boat installations-which makes proper installation and regular inspection so critical in onboard systems.

HeatMate Takes the Chill Off

When temperatures decrease, the search for viable heating options by shivering sailors invariably increases. A recent cold winters night provided the perfect opportunity for one blue-nosed liveaboard Practical Sailor tester to check out the HeatMate 5200 heater-stove from Contoure International Inc. The HeatMate 5200 is a portable, non-pressurized alcohol heater that easily converts into a stove. Weighing in at about 5 pounds, the fairly compact, aluminum unit measures approximately 11.75 inches tall by 11.5 inches in diameter, and it comes assembled and ready to go.

Cabin Fan Test Returns

In April 2008, Practical Sailor evaluated 11 cabin fans from seven manufacturers. Since that test, Caframo has gone back to the drawing board and redesigned its 748 Bora. The company also introduced a new weatherproof version of its Kona. Testers were pleased to see that the new fans clearly addressed complaints raised in our last test: The Bora radically changed its blade design to pump more air, and the Konas corrosion-prone metal grill was replaced with a plastic grill that will hold up better in salt air. Based on the new data, the Bora has climbed up into the recommended rankings. Stay tuned for this years Fan Death Match.

How to Prevent Head Odors Aboard Your Sailboat

While permeation of waste gases through flexible sanitation hose is a major source of odors in the head, it is not the only one. This article looks at the possible sources one by one.

Navigator Wood Stoves Provide Classic Heating and Cooking Onboard

Navigator Stoves, based on Orcas Island in Washington state, produces three classic wood-burning stoves for use onboard boats and in cabins, RVs, and other small structures. The Little Cod and Sardine stove models are produced using the patterns originally made at the Lunenberg Foundry in Nova Scotia. The Halibut stove model is based on an old favorite, the Shipmate stove. The cast-iron custom-made stoves and can be ordered in the original stove polish or one of six porcelain enamels. They can burn wood and charcoal. The Halibut stove model can also burn coal. For use in warmer months, Navigator has designed denatured-alcohol drop-in burners for cooking.

Bargain-priced Sailing Clothes for Cold Weather

The first breath of autumn rolled across the North American continent this month, reminding us all that summer’s end is fast upon us. And since this summer was such a bust for many sailors who had the season cut short by the COVID-19 restrictions, you are probably not the only one who looked across the harbor last week and thought, “I better put on another layer.”